Michael J. Malone
Douglas County Law Library

Judicial and Law Enforcement Center
111 East 11th Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
info@douglascolawlibrary.org
Phone: (785) 838-2477
Fax: (785) 838-2455


This Month in Legal History Archive

This page contains archived entries from the current year's "This Month in Legal History" column and links to the archived entries from previous years. The column features a different event from the history of law and jurisprudence of Douglas County, Kansas, that occurred during the month. It is published monthly in the Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library E-Mail Newsletter and on the This Month In Legal History page of this website. Entries will be added to this page, most recent at the bottom, following the end of the month in which they were published. Archived entries from previous years can be accessed by clicking on one of the links at the bottom of this page.



January 10, 1863 - Judge Louis Carpenter records his last case as Probate Judge of Douglas County, Kansas - Louis Carpenter was born on December 14, 1829, in New York State, but the exact location is unknown. Nothing else is known of him prior to him coming to Kansas Territory sometime in the late 1850s. The earliest known record of his being in Kansas is a notice appearing in the February 5th, 1859, issue of the Herald of Freedom newspaper that was published in Lawrence. The notice reported that two letters addressed to a Lewis(1) Carpenter were still in the Lawrence post office at the end of January. Three weeks later on February 26th, 1859, a legal notice appeared in the same newspaper for a case filed on February 21st, 1859, in the United States District Court of Kansas Territory, 2nd Judicial District for Douglas County, which lists Louis Carpenter as Deputy Clerk of the Court. Both the 1860 United States Census and the 1860 Lawrence city directory record him as being a lawyer. When and where he obtained his legal training is not known. Carpenter became Probate Judge for Douglas County, Kansas Territory, and one month after Kansas had entered the Union as a state that did not allow slavery, he recorded his first case as judge on February 26, 1861. Less than two months later, the divisions over the continuation of slavery that had been festering in the nation broke out as open civil war. Lawrence and Douglas County had played an important part in the movement against slavery in the 1850s, and many supporters of slavery despised the town because of it. On the evening of October 10, 1862, Judge Carpenter married Mary E. Barber at the home of her sister, Abigail, in Emporia, Kansas. Abigail’s husband, the Reverend Grosvenor C. Morse, officiated at the ceremony. At that time, Judge Carpenter was also involved in what proved to be an unsuccessful election campaign running as the candidate of the Union Party for Attorney General of Kansas. Judge Carpenter's last case as probate judge was on January 10, 1863. He was appointed as Kansas Supreme Court Reporter, and through the spring and summer of 1863, he compiled and edited material intended to be published as the first report of the Kansas Supreme Court. During this time Judge Carpenter was having a large brick house built for Mary and him, which the couple moved into in late spring or early summer 1863. They were at home with Mary's sister Abigail, who was there on a visit, on the morning of August 21, 1863, when the notorious Confederate guerrilla leader William Clarke Quantrill led his band of 400 men in an attack on Lawrence, killing and burning as they went. A number of raiders came to the Carpenter home, but Judge Carpenter was able to talk them out of doing any harm to him or his house. Then, as the raiders were assembling in preparation to leave a block or so from the Carpenters', another raider knocked on their door. Judge Carpenter was coming down the stairs as Mary opened the door. The raider asked Judge Carpenter "Where are you from," to which he replied "New York." The raider exclaimed that New Yorkers were the ones that they were after and began firing his pistol at him. Judge Carpenter ran throughout the house and then down into the cellar, trying unsuccessfully to avoid being hit by the gunfire. A second gunman joined the first and they continued to fire at Judge Carpenter through the cellar windows. There was nowhere for him to hide, and he suffered four(2) severe gunshot wounds. He came up out of the cellar and collapsed in the back yard. Mary felling down on him and tried to shield him with her body, but one of the gunmen lifted her arm and killed Judge Carpenter with a point-blank shot to his head. About three hours after Quantrill and his men left town, a crude wooden coffin was made by friends who had survived the devastation, and Judge Carpenter was buried in his own back yard. A week later, on August 28, 1863, his body was exhumed from his backyard grave and moved to another location. Three months after the raid, on November 19, 1863, the members of the Bar of Douglas County met in an official session of the District Court to memorialize the attorneys who had died in that early-morning attack. During that court session, resolutions were adopted expressing the profound grief of the members of the bar over the death of Judge Carpenter, noting his hard work, his many fine personal qualities, and offering deep sympathy to his wife and family. The session concluded with instructions that the resolutions be communicated to Judge Carpenter's family, that they be made part of the official records of the Court, and that they be transmitted to the Supreme Court of Kansas with a request that they be entered in its records "as permanent testimonials of the sentiments of this bar upon this occasion." On the first day of the Supreme Court's January 1864 term, the proceedings, statement, and resolutions on Judge Carpenter from the Douglas County Bar were ordered "to be spread upon the journal of the court," and were published in the first volume of the Kansas State Reports. After Oak Hill Cemetery was opened in Lawrence in 1865, Judge Carpenter's body was reinterred in a plot there, near to the final resting place of many other victims of Quantrill's Raid. Mary Carpenter eventually remarried and moved from Lawrence, leaving Judge Carpenter to lie alone on Oak Hill.

(1) In the handwriting style of the time, “Lewis” and “Louis” were, and are, difficult to distinguish from one another unless an example of each is available for comparison. Confusion over the spelling of the name on documents, especially if the reader was not familiar with the handwriting of the person who wrote the name, would have been common. Therefore, when dealing with handwritten documents of the period, the two spellings of the name are interchangeable for all practical purposes.

(2) An article published in the September 24, 1863, issue of the Ripley Bee, Ripley, Ohio, contains extracts of a letter written by “a lady of Lawrence, Kansas” to a relative in Ripley. The author of the letter identifies herself as a friend of Mary (e.g. Mary Carpenter, Louis Carpenter's wife) and, among other things, describes the attack on Judge Carpenter.

(From: Judge Louis Carpenter page, Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library website. Published 1/16.)  Back to top of page

February 13, 1926 - Joseph Myler is arrested for criminal libel for producing an "obscene" publication at Baker University - Joseph Larkin Myler was born on January 22, 1905, in Iola, Kansas, to Emberson W. and Laura Kate Myler. Before Joseph was born, the elder Myler held a number of positions as principal and superintendent of schools in various small towns in Kansas, and later began the practice of law. Joseph's mother was a school teacher. It is apparent that education was important to the Myler Family. Joseph grew up in Iola, and when he was old enough for college, he went to Baldwin City, Kansas, and enrolled in Baker University. The elder Myler had been a principal in the Baldwin City school system from 1890 to 1896, so he would have been familiar with Baker University and may have influenced his son to attend school there. Joseph joined the Baker chapter of Theta Nu Epsilon. At the time of Joseph's involvement, Theta Nu Epsilon was an organization only for members of the sophomore class. It had apparently been operating on the Baker campus without the knowledge of the university or the people of Baldwin City, and when this was discovered, it was referred to in the press as an "outlaw fraternity". Joseph became secretary of the fraternity, and supposedly was informed in late 1925 that as such, he was required to edit and produce a publication once a month. Joseph Myler took on those duties and began producing what was destined to be called The Rod. The first issue of The Rod was distributed on campus on January 21, 1926. It apparently contained gossip and unflattering portrayals of the morals of various members of the Baker community. As such, it created quite a stir at the school, and was soon being referred to as "obscene" and a "smut sheet". The university administration created a special disciplinary committee to look into the matter. The Douglas County, Kansas, authorities went further, and on February 13, 1926, Myler was arrested on a charge of criminal libel. Twelve(1) other men were also implicated in the case. Douglas County Sheriff W.J Cummings arrested as many of them as he could locate. Several of the men were members of the basketball team, and were prevented from playing in that evening's game. Myler was reported to have confessed to his role as editor when he was arrested. He apparently was released on bond as he went home to Iola. Myler returned to Baldwin City on the morning of the 15th, and took his clothes and other property back home. Speculation was that this indicated he was quitting the school. The incident caused quite a stir across the state, as that same day the Kansas Book Dealers Association adopted a resolution opposing "the sale of publications which are excluded from the United States mails", as were obscene publications, and the Kansas Attorney General Charles B. Griffin announced that his office would attempt to suppress the circulation of "salacious magazines" in Kansas, He was quoted as saying "When the minds of students at a church school like Baker becomes [sic] so filthy that such rot as this is written, it is time we keep out of Kansas the magazines which poison the minds of our children." Those opposed to Griffin's proposal contended that fighting against such publications would only increase their sales. Several days later, Myler's attorney attempted to get the Baker authorities to drop the suit against his client, pointing out that it should be a school matter and not a criminal one, but County Attorney George K. Melvin doubted that it would be dropped. Late on February 23rd, Melvin issued a warrant for Lee Hettick, owner and publisher of the Gridley Light, a newspaper in Gridley, Kansas. Despite earlier assertions by the men who had been arrested that a printer in Baldwin City had been responsible for printing the publication, it had been determined that The Rod had been printed by Hettick. The following day, Myler's case came up before Judge Hugh Means, the judge in the Douglas County District Court. He pled guilty and was fined $100 by Judge Means. Commenting on his decision, the judge said, "No purpose would be served by a prison sentence other than serving as a warning to others and I hope that warning already is sufficiently plain." Myler was asked if the other twelve men who had been arrested were also implicated, and his response was "that they were to about the same as himself". Judge Means set an appearance bond of $200 for Myler to testify as a witness against the other twelve men in their trials that were scheduled for the May court session. On March 15th, Sheriff Cummings traveled to Gridley, arrested Hettick, and brought him back to Lawrence, the county seat of Douglas County. He was released from custody on $500 bail. Around the first of May, County Attorney Melvin received a telegram from the executive secretary of Theta Nu Epsilon saying that contrary to what the young men who had been arrested had originally said, the fraternity had had nothing to do with the publication of The Rod, and that the Baker chapter had been suspended about a year prior to the incident. The May court term got underway on the 3rd, and Melvin dismissed charges against the other twelve men, noting that since Myler had pled guilty in February, "it was believed that all had been punished who could be punished in connection with the sheet". Charges against Hettick for defamation by printing the publication were not dropped and the intent was to bring him to trial in a few weeks. The expectation was that he would plead guilty. The records of Hettick's case in the files of the Douglas County District Court do not indicate that he went to trial, and no newspaper account has been located reporting how his case came out, so he probably did plead guilty as had earlier been speculated and paid whatever fine was imposed by Judge Means. After Myler's unceremonial exit from Baker University, he finished his college education at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and then began a career in journalism. He got a job as city editor of the Herington Times in Herington, Kansas, and later moved home to Iola to work on the Iola Daily Register, eventually becoming managing editor of the newspaper. The exact chronology of these events is not clear, but it is known that he was living in Iola with his mother in 1930. In January 1933, Myler joined the United Press news agency and moved to Kansas City, Missouri. On Oct. 24, 1934, he married Helen Elizabeth Austin, who was from Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. Myler was transferred from Kansas City to Jefferson City, Missouri, and later to Dallas, Texas. He was transferred again, to New York City, where he worked as a rewrite man. Once again, the chronology of these events is not clear, but he and Elizabeth were living in the Jackson Heights neighborhood in New York City's borough of Queens in 1940. Myler was transferred from New York to Washington, D.C., on December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He wrote many of the lead stories out of the Washington office, including the Allied invasion of Normandy, the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the end of the war in Europe, the atomic bombing of Japan, and the end of the war in the Pacific. As part of this work, Myler handled President Truman's public announcement of the development of the atomic bomb. He covered the first postwar test of nuclear weapons at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in July of 1946, and was back there again in May 1956 for the testing of the first Hydrogen bomb. Myler wrote many magazine articles on nuclear energy and was the author of an authoritative article on the subject for the Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1957, he began specializing in science writing, and won both the National Headliners Award from the Press Club of Atlantic City, New Jersey, for his work and an Atomic Industrial Forum award in 1969 for "making a significant contribution to public understanding of nuclear energy". Myler also covered all but one of the national political conventions between 1940 and 1968, as well as several presidential campaigns. He retired in December 1972 when he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He was quoted as saying, "I had spent a lifetime prepping for cirrhosis of the liver or lung cancer or both. But my liver is dandy and my lungs are fine. Goddam my gullet, I say." Joseph Larkin Myler died in Washington on July 5, 1973. The couple had no children, so he was survived by only his wife Elizabeth. Myler lived an eventful life, and for someone who started out his journalism career by writing for The Rod at Baker University and being fined $100 for criminal libel because if it, he went a long way indeed.

(1) Some newspaper reports had the number at eleven, but there were twelve names listed when they were printed in a newspaper article.

(From: The El Dorado Times (El Dorado, Ark., August 17, 1973, p. 2; Joseph L. [Myler], 1910 U.S. Census, Iola, Allen County, Kansas, 4/20/1910; Annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students of the State Normal School, Emporia, Kansas. Thirty-Sixth Year - 1899-1900, Emporia, Kansas, 1900, p. 28; Joseph Larkin [Myler], 1920 U.S. Census, Iola, Allen County, Kansas, 1/14/1920; Theta Nu Epsilon, Wikipedia website; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 70, no. 39 (February 15, 1926), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 70, no. 42 (February 18, 1926), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 70, no. 47 (February 24, 1926), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 70, no. 61 (March 16, 1926), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 70, no. 105 (May 3, 1926), p. 1; Douglas County, Kansas, Newspaper Articles, genealogytrails.com website; [Myler,] Joseph L., 1930 U.S. Census, Iola, Allen County, Kansas, 4/3/1930; Myler, Joseph L., 1940 U.S. Census, New York, Queens, New York, 4/16/1940; and, The Times-News (Henderson, N.C.), v. 94, no. 286 (December 3, 1969), p. 11. Published 2/16.)  Back to top of page

March 8, 1858 - Charles Freeman convicted of selling “spirituous liquors” without a license - The Santa Fe Trail was established in 1821 as a commerce route between the United States and the Mexican territory of Nuevo México. Mexico had just gained independence from Spain, and businessmen in the United States wanted to establish trade between the two nations. The Trail began in Independence, Missouri, and wound its way southeast through the southern portions of the unorganized territory acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. It eventually entered Mexican territory before ending in Santa Fe. Traffic along the trail increased steadily, and the quantity of goods going back and forth increased proportionally. United States acquired Nuevo México as a result of its victory in the Mexican-American War, and trade to the newly renamed New Mexico Territory increased. Long trains of freight wagons loaded with cottons and woolens, silks, velvets, and hardware would set out from Missouri and go down the trail southwest to Santa Fe. They would return with furs, blankets, and gold and silver. Cattle were also driven on the trail in large numbers. Another commodity that the traders brought out of Missouri was alcohol. It was highly valued both for consumption by the traders, and for trade along the trail. Kansas Territory was established on May 30, 1854, to allow white settlement of the area, and men came into the territory to settle and look for the economic opportunities available in a new land. Many of them had previously worked on the Santa Fe Trail and had seen the value of the land and the potential for profit there. All this activity soon gave rise to a large demand for “spirituous liquors”, and many willing peddlers soon became dealers in alcohol, which subsequently brought on calls to regulate the trade. A significantly large number of the alcohol traders were committed to selling their product to members of the numerous Indians nations that lived in eastern Kansas. Those nations included the Kansa, Osage, Pawnee, Delaware, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Kaskaskia, Peoria, Wea, Piankashaw, Ottawa, Sauk, Fox, Iowa, Miami, and Wyandotte. Most of these Indians had previously been settled by the United States government in the area that was to become Kansas Territory after they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in the east to make way for white settlement. In the winter of 1855, the widow of John Meeker, a missionary who had lived among the Ottawa, wrote upon her husband's death about the conditions of the Ottawa on the reservation. "As to the poor forsaken Indians I know not what to say. They feel that they have lost a true friend, and will never find another. In addition to this, they are in a suffering condition. On account of the great failure of the crops last season, they are left without anything to eat. Some of them are now living on roots. I fear they will die of hunger. Provisions are very high here. The white people who are settling around us are some of the worst in the world, and are standing ready to injure the Indians in every possible way in their power." Many of those white people Mrs. Meeker wrote about sold alcohol to the Indians. Because of its proximity to a number of reservations, Douglas County was home to many such traders. The 1855 Statutes of Kansas Territory decreed that, “A special election is hereby ordered, to be held on the first Monday of October, in the year of 1855, and on the first Monday of October every two years thereafter, in each municipal township, in every county in the territory, and in each incorporated city or town in the territory, to take the vote of the people upon the question, whether dram-shops and tavern licenses shall be issued in the said township, incorporated city or town, for the next two years thereafter.” A resident of Douglas County named Charles Freeman was arrested sometime in early 1858, charged with selling “spirituous liquors” without having first having obtained a license as a “grocer, dram-shop keeper, or tavern keeper, contrary to the statute in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the territory of Kansas.” He was brought before the Second Judicial District Court in Lecompton. Kansas Territory, on March 8, 1858, where he was indicted, tried, and convicted on the charge. He then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the Territory of Kansas. The Supreme Court heard the case in December 1858 and struck down Freeman’s conviction on the grounds that the indictment in the case had been “clearly defective” because it had not named “any county of the district, or any place in the district” where the alleged crime had taken place. In 1858, the Second Judicial District contained eight counties, each of which had set separate jurisdictional limits within its own boundaries. The court found that the question of “In which of these was this offense committed?” impossible to determine because of the absence of such written information on the indictment. Without being able to identify the location of Freeman’s offense, the Supreme Court found it impossible to determine if Freeman had sold alcohol in a location where a license would have been required. Although Freeman was exonerated, the case clarified for local officials the way they could deal with illegal alcohol traders, which aided the local authorities in their attempts to end the illegal trade. Progress was slow, evidence by a report from Lewis Henry Morgan who visited Kansas Territory in 1859. He witnessed large numbers of illegally operating white alcohol traders still targeting Indians in their trade.

(From: Statutes of Kansas Territory, 1855, chap. 64, sec. 1, page 32; and, The End of Indian Kansas, by H. Craig Miner and William Unrau, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, 1978, 67. Published 3/16.)  Back to top of page

April 5, 1898 - An attempt to cause a train wreck near Eudora, Kansas, is foiled - In the evening of April 5, 1898, a man was walking along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad tracks east of Eudora, Kansas. When he was about a quarter mile from town, he found several rails and ties laid across the tracks. They had been placed so that any train that ran into them would derail and wreck. The obstructions were too heavy for the man to remove alone, so he hurried into town and notified the Santa Fe agent there, who quickly sent out a warning to stations up and down the line to stop all trains. An eastbound passenger train, No. 116, was due there around 9:30 p.m. and a westbound express train, No. 7, was due around 10:30 p.m. The agent at the Lawrence station, approximately seven miles west of Eudora, held No. 116 until the rails and ties could be removed from the tracks. After he received notice that the obstructions had been removed and the line was again safe and open, No. 116 was allowed to proceed and so normal rail service was resumed. The last train to pass prior to the discovery of the obstructions had been a westbound express at around 5:45 p.m. The rails and ties would have had to have been emplaced after that, and so could not have been in place very long when they were discovered. Train wrecks, which frequently resulted in loss of life, were all too common, so deliberately wrecking a train, especially a passenger train, was a serious crime. Railroads were extremely sensitive to crimes committed against them. They employed special detectives to investigate crimes committed on railroad property and bring the perpetrators to trial. The incident east of Eudora was no exception. Detectives began an intensive search and were described as being "at work everywhere to find the culprits..." The AT&SF soon offered a reward, but there is no evidence that the motive for the attempted wreck was ever determined or that those responsible for the deed were ever identified or brought to justice.

(From: Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 30, no. 82 (April 6, 1898), p. 4; and, Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 30, no. 87 (April 12, 1898), p. 2. Published 4/16.)  Back to top of page

May 30, 1862 - Elliott V. Banks writes a rather gossipy letter to John Hutchings about his fellow attorneys in Lawrence, Kansas - In the winter of 1849, Dr. Charles Robinson, who would eventually become the first governor of the State of Kansas, joined a party of men that was organizing in Boston, Massachusetts. The party intended to go to the gold fields in California, and Robinson signed on as physician. They left Boston on March 19th, and made their way west through Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, eventually arriving at Westport, Missouri, the town that would later be renamed Kansas City. They struck out west along the Kaw River through the unorganized land that five years later would become the Territory of Kansas. About fifty river miles from Westport, Dr. Robinson observed what to him looked like the ideal place for a town site. He kept that idea in the back of his mind through the rest of the trip to California, through his many adventures there, and through his trip back to Massachusetts in 1851. By 1854, there was a push to open up the territory west of Missouri to white settlement and eventual statehood. A bill known as the Kansas-Nebraska Act had been introduced in congress to accomplish this. One provision of the bill was to allow the residents of the new Territory of Kansas to vote on whether it would allow slavery. Those opposed to slavery in the east organized groups to oppose Kansas becoming a slave state, and one of them, the New England Emigrant Aid Company, was determined to send settlers to the territory to make Kansas free. Dr. Robinson had written several letters about the places he had seen in his trip through the future Kansas which attracted considerable attention, and he soon found himself associated with the Company. The Kansas-Nebraska Act passed and was signed into law on May 30, 1854. The New England Aid Company began organizing parties of men to head for Kansas to settle and organize Free State towns there to oppose the proponents of slavery who were also beginning to come into the territory. On June 28, 1854, Dr. Robinson left Massachusetts for Kansas as an agent of the Company to select town sites. One of those that he chose was that ideal site he had observed along the Kaw River on his trip to California back in 1849. The Company began sending parties of Free State emigrants out to Kansas to settle, with the first one going to the new town site on the Kaw. Dr. Robinson led the Company's second party to the new town. Several names, including Wakarusa and New Boston, were proposed for the name of the town, but in October 1854, it was decided that it would be named Lawrence, in honor of Amos Lawrence, a benefactor of the Company. Because it was known as the Free State headquarters in Kansas, many proslavery supporters hated the town, which caused it and its residents significant trouble. It was sacked and burned on May 21, 1856, but soon recovered and prospered. That prosperity brought many men and women in a wide variety of trades and professions to town, including those in the legal profession. A number of attorneys came to Lawrence to set up practice and work with the problematic but profitable legal aspects of life in a rapidly developing new land. Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861, and by 1862, there were at a good number of lawyers practicing in Lawrence. One of them, Elliott V. Banks, wrote a letter dated May 30, 1862, to a friend and fellow lawyer named John Hutchings, who was contemplating a move to Lawrence. Banks wrote that "Believing that you will finally be 'one among us' I deem it expedient to give you a 'concise' view of your destined contestants." His observations were frequently sharp, unflattering, and rather gossipy. Banks had good things to say about Wilson Shannon, a former governor of Kansas Territory who held the office during the summer of 1856, the most violent period of the "Bleeding Kansas" era, reporting him as "a grave dignified gentlemanly man, a first rate lawyer, as good as any in the state...." He did not, however, have a high opinion of Louis Carpenter, who at the time was serving as probate judge. Banks refers to him as a "close over-read bookworm", who "stick[s] so close to the books that he often gets outside of the case & books too". He continues his observations, writing that Judge Carpenter was "a great brag", "a great egotist....", and that he "has a poor faculty for making - or rather keeping friends...." Banks also wrote that Judge Carpenter "abuses witnesses needlessly." The excoriation of Judge Carpenter ends with the observation that Solon O. Thatcher, who had recently become judge in the Kansas Fourth Judicial District, had left his Lawrence practice "in Carpenters [sic] hands". Considering that the Reverend Richard Cordley would later call Judge Carpenter "a young man of marked ability," perhaps some of Bank's animosity towards him was based more on jealously than on reality(1). This possibility becomes more believable when looking at how Banks described another Lawrence attorney, James S. Emery. Banks writes that Emery was "So notoriously scheming and tricky & dishonest that his...now fair business is fast dwindling out. He is doubtless a scoundrel. Smooth & oily but his oil is plainly penetrable." Emery was later to serve as a state legislator, as a United States District Attorney, as a regent of the University of Kansas, and as president of the Kansas State Historical Society. Though none of these accomplishments disprove Bank's assessments as to Emery's character, they do call them into question. Even though there is a question as to whether all of the observations he recorded in his letter were entirely accurate or fair, the letter that Banks wrote to his friend John Hutchings still provides valuable information on the makeup and activities of Lawrence's legal community in 1862. It is made even more valuable because most of the other potential sources for this information were destroyed when Lawrence was attacked and burned the next year in Quantrill's Raid.

(1)Considering how Banks felt about Judge Carpenter, it is interesting that he took over as Reporter for the Kansas Supreme Court when Carpenter, who at the time was serving in that office, was killed in Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence on August 21, 1863.

(From: Charles Robinson: The First Free-State Governor of Kansas, by Frank W. Blackmar, Crane & Company, Topeka, pp. 22-29; Robinson, Charles, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co., Chicago, 1912, Vol. 2, pp. 589-591; Letter, from Elliott V. Banks to John Hutchings, May 30, 1862, Hutchings, John, 1836- , Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries; and, A Survey in Retrospect: A Letter of Elliott V. Banks, by Paul R. Wilson, The University of Kansas Law Review, v. 10, no. 2 (December 1961), pp. 123-132. Published 5/16.)  Back to top of page

June 1, 1907 - Attorney Lucius H. Perkins dies after a fall off the roof of his new house in Lawrence, Kansas - Lucius H. Perkins was born in Racine County, Wisconsin, on March 5, 1855, to Otis G. and Julia Perkins. Otis Perkins was a farmer, and Lucius grew up on the farm with his older brother Francis and older sister Mary. Lucius had what was described as "a liberal education" eventually attending Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. Francis moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1875, and began work in the mortgage investment business. As soon as Lucius graduated from Bethel College in 1877, he left Wisconsin to join Francis in Lawrence. Lucius studied law there in the office of Judge Solon O. Thacher, and in 1879 was admitted to the bar. He then attended classes in the Department of Law at the University of Kansas and was a member of the first graduating class in 1880. Perkins developed a lucrative legal practice, and on May 15, 1882, he married Clara L. Morris, daughter of Dr. Richard and Belinda L. Morris. Clara was an 1877 University of Kansas graduate, and at the time of her marriage to Perkins was a faculty member at the school teaching music. Bertram Allen Perkins was born to Lucius and Clara on April 14, 1883, but died when he was only four years old. Clement Dudley Perkins was born on August 2, 1885, and Rollin Morris Perkins was born on March 15, 1889. A fourth son, Lucius Junius Perkins, was born March 11, 1897. That same year Perkins began postgraduate study, and was awarded a Doctorate of Civil Laws by the University of Chicago in 1900. It was reported that in his practice he was "entrusted with a volume of important litigation, not only in Kansas but in other states." Perkins took Clara and the three boys on a three-year trip abroad, spending most of that time in England, where his family had originated. He visited his ancestral home known as Ufton Court in the county of Berkshire. Inspired by what he saw, on his return to the United States he began planning for the construction of a large house in Lawrence. Perkins hired the noted Kansas architect John G. Haskell to design it. It was to be a three-story 25 room edifice, with a decorative tower and a red tile roof, located at 1004 Elliot Street. Construction began on the project, and owing to the size of the structure, took some time to complete. It was finished in the spring of 1907, and Perkins named his new residence Ufton Court after the house he had visited in England. On Saturday, June 1, 1907, Perkins had an appointment with William B. Dorward, a brick mason who was one of the contractors who had built the house. He and previously told Dorward that there were problems with the roof of the tower, and the 6:00 p.m. meeting was to show him where repairs needed to be made. As the time for the appointment approached, Dorward realized that he would be late, so he called Perkins to let him know. Perkins responded "All right, but as I am going out of town soon, I will go out on the roof and mark with a piece of chalk the pieces I want fixed." He was reported to have gone up on the roof around 5:00 p.m. At around 6:00 p.m., an employee(1) of Perkins saw him "slip over the coping, feet foremost" and "cling for a moment to the coping as though endeavoring to save himself... ". The employee yelled, "Look out", and watched as Perkins fell forty feet to the ground, landing first on his feet before falling over backwards and striking the base of his spine hard on the ground. Lucius' sons and his brother Francis were called, and they found him unconscious. They took him into the house and Dr. Charles Simmons was summoned. Lucius Perkins died around 10:00 p.m. without having regained consciousness. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. It was soon discovered that Perkins had recently purchased a total of almost $600,000 in life and accident insurance policies with twelve insurance companies. There was also a report that he had studied poisons and had inquired to the authorities at the University of Michigan about poisons that would leave little or no trace in the body. The theory that Perkins had committed suicide was raised. It was reported that one insurance company promptly paid the $300,000 policy it had on Perkins' life, but the other eleven balked at making payments. They argued that Perkins would not have been able to pay the premiums on such a large amount of life insurance, so the only reason he would have taken out so much would have been to defraud the companies. His family countered that he had been advised that purchasing life insurance was a sound investment and that he had no intention of committing suicide. The Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York filed suit in the United States Circuit Court, District of Kansas, to force the exhumation of Perkins' body and have it tested for poison residue. The application was originally denied, but Mutual Life tried again to have the court order an exhumation and this time they were successful. His body was exhumed from his grave in Oak Hill Cemetery and was turned over for autopsy. On October 3, 1907, Clara Perkins filed suit for $75,000 in damages against Mutual Life, United States Marshal William J. Mackey, Jr., and Dr. John D. Freeman for damages they did to her and her property "in exhuming the body of her late husband and mutilating it." Perkin's body was eventually reinterred in Oak Hill Cemetery. On November 4, 1907, the court received the report on the examination of Perkins' body. It had been determined that three of ribs on his right side had been broken and the broken ends had been thrust into the right lung. In the investigators' opinion, the damage and blood loss from such an injury would be fatal. In addition, they had discovered around five grains of morphine in Perkins' body, "a dose of morphine that is usually regarded as a fatal quantity." They avoided making a determination as to the cause of death. On September 16, 1908, depositions were taken in a suit filed by Mutual Life to cancel their $100,000 policy on Perkins' life. The company contended that the morphine was the cause of his death, which meant that it was suicide, so they therefore were not liable for payment. The Perkins family argued that the injuries to his chest had been the cause of his death, and that he was up on the roof to point out repairs he wanted made before he left on an extended vacation he had been planning. They contended that this vacation was evidence that he was not planning suicide, and since the injuries from the fall were the cause of his death, Mutual Life was obligated to pay on their policy. The legal wrangling continued until the first week of June 1911, when a $375,000 compromise was reached with all the remaining insurance companies, resulting in all the lawsuits being dropped. The family continued to occupy Ufton Court, which around 1915 had its address changed from 1004 Elliott Street to 1004 Fourth Street as part of a city-wide change of street names. Previously, the east-west running streets had all been named for individuals, but the decision was made to change them to numbered streets with the numbers increasing towards the south. Perkins Family members lived in Ufton Court until the mid-1920s, when the house was sold to Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. The fraternity members began occupying the house in the fall of 1925. Clara Perkins died on July 9, 1927, and joined Lucius in the family plot in Oak Hill Cemetery. For a time during World War II, the former Perkins home served as a rooming house for employees at the Sunflower Ordinance Works in De Soto, Kansas, and was known as Victory Mansion. On April 13, 1944, a fire destroyed the building that housed the county poor farm, and the following day, the county commission voted to purchase the former Ufton Court to serve as a replacement. The building was renovated and opened on September 9, 1944, as the Douglas County Convalescent Hospital. Over the years there were numerous additions added, but as time went on, problems with the building began showing up. On November 4, 1958, voters approved the construction of a new county nursing home, and two years later, voters approved the sale of the Douglas County Convalescent Hospital. It was purchased by the Medical Arts Center, who razed Lucius Perkins' Ufton Court in 1962 and replaced it with a parking lot.

(1) The man is identified in different newspapers as E.M. Hubbell, E.M Hubbel, or just Hubbard, with no initials.

(From: Lucius H. Perkins, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918; Francis M. Perkins, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918; Otis G. Perkins, 1860 U.S. Census, Town of Raymond, Racine County, Wisconsin, 6/15/1860; Morris, Richard, 1880 U.S. Census, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/9/1880; Lawrence Daily World, v. 16, no. 75 (June 3, 1907), p.1; The Western Underwriter: a Weekly Newspaper of Insurance, Eleventh Year, no. 25 (June 20, 1907), p. 14; The Insurance Field (Life Edition), v. 23, no. 23B (June 9, 1911), p. 8; The Jeffersonian Gazette, v. 27, no. 2 (August 21, 1907), p. 1; Lawrence Daily World, v. 16, no. 144 (September 4, 1907), p. 1; Lawrence Daily World, v. 16, no. 151 (September 12, 1907), p. 2 ; Lawrence Daily World, v. 16, no. 170 (October 7, 1907), p. 1; Lawrence Daily World, v. 16, no. 197 (November 6, 1907), p. 1; Lawrence Daily World, v. 17, no. 171 (September 17, 1908), p. 4; The Douglas County Poor Farm, tauycreek.com website; and, Kansas Government Journal, v. 30, no. 10 (October 1944), p. 16. Published 6/16.)  Back to top of page

July 28, 1894 - Malcrom "Cyclone" Kennedy hits Jim Johnson over the head with a board - Malcrom Kennedy was born around 1876 in Kentucky to David and Nannie Kennedy. Both David and Nannie were also born in Kentucky, which at the time of their births, around 1838 and 1851 respectively, was a slave state. Because of this, it is very likely that they were both born into slavery and emancipated by the 13th Amendment. When Malcrom was born, he had an older brother named Samuel who had been born around 1872. The family left Kentucky sometime in the late 1870s, and eventually settled in Lawrence, Kansas, where a daughter, Madinene, was born around the first of the year 1880. Another daughter, Daisy, was born around 1884. David worked as a laborer to support his family. Sometime between 1888 and 1890, David Kennedy died, leaving Nannie a widow with children to support. Malcrom, who came to be known as Mack(1), was between 12 and 14 years old when is father died, not a good time for a young man to be without a male role model, and his life took a wrong turn. At around 3:30 in the afternoon of Saturday, July 28, 1894, police came to the corner of Warren (now 9th) and Vermont Streets in downtown Lawrence on a report that a man had been killed there. When they arrived they found a crowd of people around a man with a bad cut on his face lying between two shops, unconscious, but very much alive. The man lying on the ground turned out to be Jim Johnson(2). Aside from the cut on his face, Johnson was not seriously injured. The police questioned him and Johnny Pierson, a Swedish shoemaker known as "Swede Johnny." The two newspapers that reported the incident agreed that it had started in Pierson's shop, but each had a different story as to what had transpired. One report had Johnson and Pierson having sent out for a bottle of beer to be brought to them. The "colored fellow" who returned with it demanded a drink from the bottle as well as the fifty cents it cost. When they refused him, he hit Johnson "with a board or a knife." The other report was that the "colored boy" came to the shoe shop to retrieve a pair of shoes he had earlier left with Swede Johnny to be repaired. He insisted that he was owed ten cents in change but this was refused. He went to "Judge Chadwick", presumably Charles Chadwick, a local attorney, to find out how he could get his money. Apparently not satisfied with the response from the Judge, he went back "to deal out justice in person." When he got to the shop he picked up a board and swung it at Pierson. Pierson ducked out of the way of the blow but Johnson was hit in the head. The assailant ran away. Although the two stories differ significantly in their details, both agree that the "colored" man who swung the board was Mack Kennedy, who was supposedly known to the police as "Cyclone." Johnson and Pierson appeared in police court and were each fined $11.50 for being drunk. Kennedy had gone into hiding, and managed to avoid arrest for over four months, until the night of December 12, 1894, when Marshal Jeans got word that he was at a location on Kentucky Street in Lawrence. He went there, found Kennedy, and arrested him. He was arraigned the following day and pled not guilty. Kennedy was scheduled in court for Monday December 17th, when he was bound over for the next term of district court on a charge of assault with intent to kill. Bond was set at $750. On February 5, 1895, he was convicted of "murder in the 4th degree had death ensued". In reporting Kennedy's conviction, a newspaper noted that he was "a hard customer and little sympathy is expected for him." On February 18th, Judge Alfred W. Benson sentenced him to a year in the Kansas State Penitentiary. Kennedy spent a little less than eleven months there, and was released from prison on January 7, 1896. He was arrested on August 20, 1898, for beating his sister, but the next day in police court he was acquitted of the charge. Sometime in the latter 1890s, Kennedy's mother married a man named Alfred Brooks and took his name, becoming Nannie Brooks. Around the middle of August 1905, Kennedy beat up a man named John Barnard, who was identified by a newspaper as a gambler, using the butt of a revolver. Kennedy was arrested, but Barnard soon disappeared, and as he was the principal witness, Kennedy was released. Barnard returned to Lawrence on August 29th, and attacked Kennedy, beating him with the butt of his revolver. Barnard was arrested. He was found guilty in police court the next day and fined $10 plus costs. In August of 1906, Kennedy was arrested for "plain drunkenness", and was issued a fine. He defaulted on payment of the fine and was put in the Lawrence city jail, described by a newspaper as the "shaky old city prison." On the night of August 23rd, he and another man dug a hole in the wall of the cell and made their way through it into the tool room of the street commissioner. They broke out a window in the room and made their escape. There is no indication of when he was recaptured, or what happened when he was. Sometime in the early 1900s, Nannie Brooks became a widow again when Alfred Brooks died, and was noted in the 1910 U.S. Census for Lawrence as being head of a household including her daughter Daisy, Daisy's husband Del Simons, and their two daughters. That census record also indicates that Nannie had given birth to nine children, only three of whom were still alive in 1910. The three would have been Mack, Daisy, and Madinene(3). Around the middle of February 1911, a Rock Island Railroad freight car was broken into in Lawrence and "a quantity of silks, shoes and a dozen silk shirt waists" were stolen. The value of the theft was put at $20. A few days after the break-in, Kennedy was arrested in Kansas City for selling whisky. He bonded out on the prohibition violation(4) charge on February 21st, and was arrested in Douglas County for complicity in the Rock Island break-in. Then on March 1st, while he was still in jail on the theft charges, Kennedy was charged with ten counts of selling liquor. The night of March 5th, three of the men being held in the Lawrence jail on the freight car theft dug their way out and escaped, but Kennedy was not reported as being one of them. No records have been found concerning the outcome of the theft and prohibition violation charges against him. Along with several other men, Kennedy was arrested in late 1911 for gambling, specifically, for "shooting craps." The man running the game was charged and tried in district court, but apparently, Kennedy was not. He eventually left Lawrence, but when this was and where he went is unknown. He may have gone to Hutchinson, Kansas, as it was reported in 1916 that he had a wife there. He eventually found his way "to the harvest fields in South Dakota." Kennedy was killed in Aberdeen, South Dakota, on the night of July 31, 1916, by a Lee Griest. It was reported that his mother "believes that he was killed in the I. W. W. trouble in the harvest fields." Formed in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the "Wobblies", is an international union that contends that all workers should be united into a social class to supplant capitalism. The IWW was particularly active in the American west in the 1910s and early 1920s, trying to organize agricultural and other workers and secure higher wages for them. There were many confrontations between IWW supporters and those interested in maintaining the status quo of agricultural workers. Local vigilantes organized to oppose IWW supporters, and the militia was sometimes called out against them. Some such confrontations ended without bloodshed, as one did in Aberdeen, South Dakota, in July of 1914, but others erupted in violence and gunfire, as one did in Mitchell, South Dakota, on July 27, 1916, just four days before Kennedy was killed. Fifteen men with guns supported by around fifty others threatened a group of IWW members to prevent them from boarding a train. When they ignored the threat and attempted to board the train anyway, the gunmen opened fire. The IWW members returned the fire, resulting in around one hundred gunshots being exchanged. Three of the IWW members were hit, as were, four of the gunmen. Police arrested half the gunmen, but soon released them and returned their guns, reportedly instructing them to "shoot more IWWs." On July 30th, a train carrying 1500 harvest hands going through Mitchell was stopped, and each man was searched for weapons before being allowed to reboard the train and continue on north in the direction of Aberdeen, approximately 140 miles away. The August 1, 1916, edition of The Lincoln Daily Star newspapers from Lincoln, Nebraska, reported that in Aberdeen, "An unidentified negro, said to be a member of the I. W. W., was shot following a disagreement with a fellow wanderer Lee Griest, over a game of craps here late last night. Griest is now held by the authorities, being caught two hours after the shooting, five miles east of the city." That "unidentified negro" was Mack Kennedy. His body was returned to Lawrence, and his funeral was held on August 6th in his mother's home at 1242 Pennsylvania Street. Kennedy was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. His killer, Lee Griest, must have been convicted in his death, as Griest's name appears as an inmate in the 1920 U.S. Census for the South Dakota Penitentiary in Sioux Falls.

(1) Some sources spell the name without a "k".

(2) The Lawrence Daily Journal first reported the injured man as "a Swede stone mason" named Bell.

(3) There is a Mattie K. Suggs recorded in the 1920 U.S. Census for Lawrence living at 1242 Pennsylvania Street with her husband William L. Suggs, the same address where Nannie Brooks had previously lived. Her age, birthplace, and the birthplaces of her parents all match those for Madinene, so there is a very high probability that Mattie and Madinene are the same person.

(4) Kansas had a statewide prohibition on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors from 1881 to 1948, and prohibition of liquor-by-the-drink from 1948 to 1987.

(From: [Kennedy,] Malcrom, 1880 United States Census, 2nd Ward, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/28/1880; [Simons,] Daisy, 1910 United States Census, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, 4/22/1910; [Suggs,] Maddie K., 1920 United States Census, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, 1/7/1920; Lawrence City Directory, R.L. Polk and Company, 1888-1923; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 26, no. 180 (July 28, 1894), p. 4; Lawrence Daily Gazette, v. 5, no. 276 (July 30, 1894), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 26, no. 299 (December 13, 1894), p. 4; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 26, no. 304 (December 19, 1894), p. 1; Lawrence Weekly World, v. 3, no. 50, (February 7, 1895), p. 5; Public Documents, Kansas, 1895-'96, Vol. II ; Report of Auditor of State, Bank Commissioner, State Penitentiary, Topeka, Kansas State Printing Company, 1896; p. 101; Lawrence Weekly World, v. 3, no. 52, (February 2, 1895), p. 5; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 69 (May 20, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 70 (May 21, 1898), p. 3; The Jeffersonian Gazette, v. 25, no. 5 (August 30, 1905), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 15, no. 151 (August 24, 1906), p. 1; The Jeffersonian Gazette, v. 30, no. 20 (February 15, 1911), p. 8; The Jeffersonian Gazette, v. 30, no. 21 (February 22, 1911), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 56 (March 1, 1911), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 60 (March 6, 1911), p. 1; State of Kansas vs. Jim Barnes, Case no. 2039, Douglas County, Kansas, District Court Records; The Jeffersonian Gazette, v. 35, no. 49 (August 9, 1916), p. 6; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 60, no. 188 (August 7, 1916), p. 1; Industrial Workers of the World, Wikipedia website; Town Routs I. W. W. Men, The New York Times, (July 20, 1914); IWW Yearbook: 1916, IWW History Project, University of Washington website; Workers, Unions, and Historians on the Northern Plains, by William C. Pratt, Great Plains Quarterly, No. 16 (Fall 1996); pp. 229-250; The Lincoln Daily Star, (August 1, 1916); and, Griest, Lee R., 1920 United States Census, South Dakota Penitentiary, Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, South Dakota, 1/20/1920. Published 7/16.)  Back to top of page

August 15, 1863 - Bloody Bill Anderson raids Black Jack - Or did he? - William T. Anderson was born in 1839 in Hopkins County, Kentucky(1), the oldest child of William C. and Martha Jane, née Thomason, or Thomasson, Anderson. The senior William and Martha were also natives of Kentucky, but soon after the younger William, known as Bill, was born they moved to Missouri. When Bill was around two years old, a second son, Ellis, was born. Not long after, the family moved to Iowa, where a third son, James M., known as Jim, was born around 1843. They did not stay in Iowa long, and by the time a daughter, Mary Ellen, was born in 1847, they were back in Missouri on a farm near Huntsville. She was followed by daughters Josephine, born around 1848, and Martha Jane, known as Janie, who was born around 1850. William senior left the family in Missouri and traveled to California to search for gold. Apparently not having much success, he returned to the family farm. Kansas Territory was opened up to white settlement in May of 1854, and in 1855, the senior William again left his family in Missouri and went there to stake a land claim. In the spring of 1857, the rest of the family came to Kansas Territory, and joined William on his claim locate next to the Santa Fe Trail thirteen miles east of Council Grove near a village named Agnes City in Breckenridge County. The sons helped their father build a log cabin there, and the family moved in and began making a life for themselves in Kansas. Taking advantage of the proximity of the Trail, William ran a freighting business and operated a grocery store, selling provisions to passing wagons. Martha gave birth to a fourth son, Charles, around 1859. By 1860, the family had become fairy prosperous, but serious issues began plaguing the Andersons. Ellis got into an altercation with an Indian, shot him in the head, and fled to Iowa. Then on June 28, 1860, Martha Anderson was struck by lightning and killed(2). Soon after, Bill staked a claim of his own and presumably moved out of the family home. He also began working on wagon trains plying the Santa Fe Trail, being made "second boss" on one of them. Soon after that train set out, Bill and the top boss returned to Council Grove, saying that they had lost the train because the horses and mules had strayed off. People wondered how you could lose a wagon train. Suspicions of Bill's honesty grew when he began taking ponies into Missouri and returning with horses that he then sold around Council Grove. People began wondering where he had obtained the ponies. A severe drought had begun in late 1860 and continued on into 1861, which was compounded by the problems resulting from the beginning of the Civil War in April 1861. Somewhere around this time, the infant Charles died. In late 1861, Bill joined Arthur Ingram Baker and a number of other men on a trip into Missouri. Baker was a lawyer from Virginia, and had founded Agnes City and owned all the buildings there, including a store. He had been district court judge and had significant influence in the area. The drought had caused his crops to fail, and his 34-year-old wife Susan had died, leaving him with a young daughter. Baker decided to go into Missouri and see what could be found there to improve his fortunes. There was a significant amount of cross-border raiding going on between Kansas and Missouri, and Baker wanted to get in on it. After entering into Missouri, they were attacked by a Union Army patrol. The patrol assumed they were either guerrillas or were on their way to join the Confederate Army. They killed one man and captured Baker. The rest of the men, including Bill Anderson, escaped. Baker was imprisoned for four months, and on his release, swore loyalty to the Union. Upon his return to Kansas in April of 1862, he severed his ties to the Anderson family, including those with his supposed lover, Mary Ellen Anderson. William, Bill, and Jim exploded with rage at Baker for having dropped his relationship with Mary Ellen, seeing it as dishonoring their family. The relationship between Baker and the Andersons continued to deteriorate. He had led a posse to capture a cousin of the Andersons, and had sworn out a complaint against him, prompting William, Bill, and Jim to threaten Baker. In the morning of May 12, 1862, William took his shotgun and rode over to Baker's house. On the way, he stopped for a whisky, and supposedly someone there removed the firing caps from the weapon. Presumably this was done without William's knowledge, because doing so rendered the gun unable to be fired. William arrived at Baker's house and yelled at him from outside. He then went inside and up the stairs to the room where Baker was taking refuge. Baker stepped out of the room and killed William with his own shotgun. The next night, Bill and Jim came to Baker's house and called him out. Baker and a friend were armed and were able to put off the two brothers. Baker obtained a warrant for the arrest of Bill and Jim. Bill was arrested, but was released on bond. The two brothers left that night for Missouri. Three weeks later a man with a wagon came to the Anderson place and took Mary Ellen, Josephine, and Janie to Missouri as well. Bill and Jim came back into Kansas with revenge on their minds. On the night of July 3rd, Bill, Jim, and several other men arrived at Baker's place. One of them, a stranger to Baker, went to his house. He told him that he was boss of a wagon train, and that he wanted to buy whisky for his men to celebrate the holiday the next day. Baker was supposedly on guard because of the bad blood between him and the Andersons, but despite this, he went with the man to his store. They were accompanied by George Secor(3), the 16-year old brother(4) of Baker's new wife, whom he had married two days after killing William Anderson. Upon arriving at the store, Baker unlocked the door and the three men went in. Baker opened a trapdoor in the floor and went down in the basement to fill a whisky bottle from a barrel stored there. When he turned around, Bill and Jim were standing in front of him. Baker pulled out a pistol and fired, striking Jim in the thigh. Bill fired back, and Baker fell to the floor severely wounded. Bill and Jim, who was not badly injured, went back up the stairs, shot Secor, and threw him into the basement. They closed the trapdoor and piled boxes and barrels on top of it. They then lit the building on fire. After the store was fully ablaze, they went over to Baker's house and burned it and the barn. They then hurried back to Missouri, arriving there safely ahead of the posse on their tail. The next day, neighbors investigated the ruins of the store. They found what remained of Baker's body, which showed signs of him having killed himself to avoid burning to death. Secor had somehow managed to crawl through a small window and escape the flames. Before dying of his wounds, he was able to tell the neighbors that it had been Bill and Jim Anderson who had done the deed. Bill and Jim became full time bushwhackers, the term used by Union supporters to describe pro-Confederate guerrillas. Early in the fall of 1862, William Clarke Quantrill, leader of the largest and most successful Confederate guerilla band in Missouri, got word that the Andersons were robbing both Confederate and Union supporters alike. They hunted the brothers down and captured them. Before releasing them, Quantrill warned them to restrict their activities to Union supporters or they would be killed. Bill felt humiliated by this, and supposedly never forgave Quantrill. Around the first of May 1863, Bill and Jim accompanied Dick Yeager, who had once served with Quantrill, and his band of guerillas on a raid into Kansas. They went to the area of Council Grove. After several run-ins with Union forces, they made their way back towards Missouri on the Santa Fe Trail. It is unclear whether Bill and Jim were still with Yeager when he and his men raided the town of Black Jack in southeastern Douglas County, Kansas, on May 8th. The town had been established in 1857 approximately a mile east of the site of the Battle of Black Jack, in which the abolitionist John Brown had led a Free State militia in a successful attack on a proslavery militia early on the morning of June 2, 1856. The area had come to be known as Black Jack because of the abundance of Blackjack Oaks there. During the raid, Yeager and his men robbed a store owned by N. H. Brockway and Samuel Ashbury Stonebraker, and stole all the horses that were owned by the overland stage route. Although they were robbed, the citizens of Black Jack were otherwise unmolested by Yeager and his men. After Bill and Jim Anderson returned to Missouri, they resumed their activities there. The two, but especially Bill, were getting to be well known by the Union authorities in the Missouri/Kansas border area. On June 16, 1863, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr., former chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court and brother-in-law of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, became commander of the District of the Border, which comprised western Missouri and most of Kansas. He was determined to stop the bands of pro-Confederates carrying out guerrilla warfare on the border, and to accomplish this, decided to get at them indirectly through their families. He had female relatives of known guerillas arrested. These included Mary Ellen and Josephine Anderson. As she had nowhere else to go, young Janie voluntarily accompanied her sisters into custody. The women and girls were put into a makeshift prison in Kansas City, Missouri. The structure, built in 1859, was known as the Thomas Building. It was owned by the famous painter George Caleb Bingham, who had previously added a third floor to the original two-story structure to serve as a studio. A Jewish merchant had had a shop on the ground floor, but was only storing merchandise there when it became a prison. Except for the captives and guards, the building was otherwise unoccupied. An adjoining building was being used as a guardhouse, and in order to make more room and more easily access the ground floor of the prison, guards removed a wall and posts holding up an important structural member in the prison building. The building began to sag. The merchant advised the authorities of this, expressing his concerns for the safety of the building. On August 13th, people became concerned that the building might collapse. An inspection was supposedly in progress when around dinnertime, the building gave way, collapsing into a large pile of rubble, burying a boy, a guard, and the seventeen women who had been on the second and third floors. Four of the women were killed, including Josephine Anderson, and a number were severely injured, including both Mary Ellen and Janie. Accusations quickly began to circulate that the building had been undermined on purpose so that it would collapse and kill the women. Just where Mary Ellen, Josephine and Janie's brother Bill was at this time, or when he first heard of the tragedy, is unclear(5). The was reputed(6) to have been in Kansas just two days later, when he led twenty-two men to Black Jack on August 15th in a repeat of Dick Yeager's May 8th raid. The men took goods from Brockway and Stonebraker's store, robbed the passengers of the overland stage that had the misfortune to arrive at the same time the raiders were there, and took all the stage horses with them when they left town. Fifteen men under the command of a J.J. Bell took out in pursuit of the raiders, and caught up to them the next morning near Westport, Missouri. They surprised the raiders who were dividing up the stolen goods. They were able to recover one horse and a portion of the stolen property. Considering what would happen on August 21st, the people at Black Jack having suffered nothing worse than their property being stolen by Bill Anderson would indicate that at that time, he knew nothing of the death of Josephine and the injuries to Mary Ellen and Janie. When he did hear about them, he changed from Bill Anderson to "Bloody" Bill Anderson. Quantrill had long been planning a raid on Lawrence, the headquarters of the Free State movement in pre-Civil War Kansas, and the town at the top of the list for revenge by many pro-Confederate Missouri guerillas. Despite the humiliation he had received at the hands Quantrill the year before, Bloody Bill enthusiastically joined him in the raid on August 21, 1863. Upwards of 200 men and boys were murdered in Lawrence, and most of the town was burned to the ground. Bloody Bill was among the most ruthless of the raiders that day(7). He went on to become more and more violent and bloodthirsty, killing Union soldiers and civilian sympathizers alike across a wide swathe of Missouri. In late 1864, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel P. Cox was assigned to hunt down and kill Anderson. A woman observed Anderson and his men camping near Albany, Missouri, and went to Cox to tell him what she had seen. Cox moved on Albany. On October 26, 1864, his men ran into Anderson's sentries about a mile from Albany and drove them through town. Cox set up a heavy skirmish line a distance from the town and sent a mounted detachment of men forward to engage the main body of the enemy. Suddenly the mounted detachment came riding back, pursued by two to three hundred screaming guerillas led by Anderson. Cox's men opened up a heavy fire on them. The guerillas killed several of Cox's men, but the heavy fire stopped all but two of them. Anderson and John Rains, son of Confederate General James S. Rains, continued the charge alone. Anderson was hit by a bullet behind his left ear, and went down off his horse. Rains was also shot off his horse and staggered off into the brush, where his body was later found lying in a field. The remaining guerillas quickly withdrew with some of Cox's men in hot pursuit. When soldiers approached Anderson's body, they found him dead. The body was identified as Anderson's by two sheets of paper and a small Confederate flag found on it. The flag bore the inscription "Presented to W.L. Anderson by his Friend, F.M.R. Let it not be Contaminated by Fed. Hands." The sheets of paper contained orders from Confederate General Sterling Price to "Captain Anderson." Several photographs of Anderson's body were taken and it was put on public display before he was buried in a field near Richmond, Missouri. When word of his death became public knowledge, newspapers exalted over the death of Bloody Bill Anderson. Jim, who had been with his brother during most of his notorious exploits, moved to Texas after the War, and was killed there in either 1867 or 1868. In 1908, Cole Younger, former Confederate guerilla and ex member of the James-Younger Gang, reburied Anderson in the Old Pioneer Cemetery in Richmond.

(1) There is some confusion in the sources as to when and where he was born. The confusion is probably the result of the family having moved from Kentucky to Missouri around the time of his birth. According to a genealogy site, the William C. Anderson that is recorded in the 1840 U.S. Census for Marion County, Missouri, is the senior William. This would indicate that the family was in residence there at that time. The 1850 U.S. Census for Randolph County, Missouri, records Bill Anderson's place of birth as Missouri, while the 1860 U.S. Census for Breckenridge (later Lyon) County, Kansas Territory, records it as Kentucky. His age as noted in both the 1850 and 1860 census records indicate him having been born in 1839. Although his entry on the Find-A-Grave website has his birth year as 1840, it has his place of birth as Hopkins County, Kentucky. Lacking other evidence, it is assumed here that William T. Anderson was born in 1839 in Kentucky.

(2) In a strange coincidence, the United States Census enumerator visited the Anderson home that same day, June 28, 1860, and recorded the members of the family living there, including Martha, who would not survive the day.

(3) There is a question as to the spelling of the last name. Different sources have it spelled Segur, Secor, and Cecor. All three spellings are names of families in New York, where George and his family came from. The 1860 U.S. Census for Breckenridge County, Kansas Territory, has the head of the household that George was living in as being Ira B. Segur. The last name of George and his two siblings is recorded as Cecor. There are at least three possibilities for this. One is that the census enumerator misunderstood the pronunciation of the children's' last name and misspelled it. A second is that Ira may have been the second husband of his wife Delia, and that the three siblings were her children by a previous marriage to a man named Cecor. A third is that George and his siblings were living with people who were not their parents. In this case, the similarly of the pronunciations of Segur and Cecor could indicate that they were all related, though perhaps distantly. The source indicating the Secor spelling is from Morris County, Kansas, which is near to where Agnes City was in Breckenridge County, so it is possible that it is the most accurate spelling. In addition, Secor and Cecor are pronounced the same, which would lend weight to the possibility of the misunderstanding by the census enumerator. In considering all the variables, the most likely answer is that the census enumerator misunderstood the spelling of George's last name, and that it was actually spelled Secor, so that is the spelling used here.

(4) Several sources have George Secor being Baker's father-in-law instead of his brother-in-law. The fact that he was 16 years old at the time, which is borne out by the 1860 census records, shows that he was not Baker's father-in-law. Somehow, "father" became confused with "brother" when those sources were written.

(5) Because he was a guerrilla, and as such out in the bush most of the time, his exact movements are very hard to pin down. As fast as men on horseback can move, their location can dramatically change in a relatively short period of time. In addition, they may not record where they go and when they are at a specific locale unless there is something particularly important to document.

(6) Two accounts record the Black Jack incident. One, in the sectioned titled Black Jack in William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Douglas County, Part 34, first published in 1883, mentions both the May 8th and August 15th raids on Black Jack. Cutler notes that the store that was raided was owned by Brockway and Stonebraker. He does not have Bill Anderson participating in the May 8th raid, but reports that Anderson led the August 15th raid. In Cutler's account, Anderson raided Black Jack on August 15th on his way back to Missouri after killing Baker in Agnes City. Since this event had actually occurred over a year before on July 3, 1862, it is obvious that Cutler was confused about the actual chronology of the events, combining the two incidents into one. This brings the veracity of the rest of his account into question. The other account may be more reliable. It is a biographical piece titled Samuel Ashbury Stonebraker contained in The United States Biographical Dictionary, Kansas Volume, published in 1879. In it, the author of the piece does not mention Brockway at all, giving full ownership of the store in Black Jack to Stonebraker. The author goes on to report that Anderson participated in the May 8th raid along with Dick Yeager, and then led an August 15th raid on Black Jack. Presumably, the information on the life of Stonebraker recorded in this source was supplied by Stonebraker himself. It is likely that he would have correctly remembered how many times his store had been robbed in 1863, and who would have led the raiders on each occasion. It is therefore highly likely that Bill Anderson did lead an August 15, 1863, raid on the town of Black Jack.

(7) Considering what he did in Lawrence, had Anderson known of the collapse of the prison in Kansas City and the death and injury of his sisters when he raided Black Jack on August 15th, it is likely that none of the male residents of the town would have survived, and that every building there would have been burned to the ground. This is evidence that Anderson did not know of the prison collapse on August 15, 1863.

(From: Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla, by Albert E. Castel and Thomas Goodrich, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 1998; Anderson, William C., 1860 United States Census, Agnes City Township, Breckenridge County, Kansas, 6/28/1860; William C, Anderson, FamilySearch website; William T. Anderson, Wikipedia website; 1840 Census, Liberty (Township), Marion County, Missouri; William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson, Find A Grave website; Bloody Bill and Judge Baker, From the Barber's Chair: Historical sketches of Morris County, Kansas, fromthebarberschair website; A.I. Baker, 1860 United States Census, Agnes City Township, Breckenridge County, Kansas, 6/28/1860; Ira B. Segur, 1860 United States Census, Agnes City Township, Breckenridge County, Kansas, 6/28/1860; Samuel Ashbury Stonebraker, The United States Biographical Dictionary, Kansas Volume, S. Lewis & Co., Chicago, 1879, pp. 432-433; Collapse of the Union Women’s Prison in Kansas City, Civil War on the Western Border website; and, Black Jack, William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Douglas County, Part 34. Published 8/16.)  Back to top of page

September 14, 1911 - Dr. Payne tries to kill his wife before committing suicide - Charles C. Payne was born in 1873 in Topeka, Kansas, to W. H. and Amanda J. Payne. A year later, Amanda gave birth to a second son, Franklin L., and three years later in 1877, a third son, Ira M. was born. W. H.'s occupation was listed as a merchant in the 1880 census. In 1884, a fourth son, Clem H. was born to W. H. and Amanda, which completed their family. Nothing else has been found to give an idea of Charles' early life and schooling, but he eventually met Mattie A. Smith, daughter of Newton and Mary Ann, née Hurley, Smith. When Mattie was born in 1876 in Kansas, her parents already had four children; Marshall, born in 1862, George A., born in 1868, Nevada A., born in 1869, and Fred J., born in 1873. Newton and Mary had both been born in New York, but they moved several times before they came to Kansas. Marshall was born in Indiana, and George, Nevada, and Fred were all born in Michigan, where their parents were married on April 18, 1866(1). Sometime between Fred 's birth in 1873 and Mattie's birth in 1876, the family moved to Kansas, where the last child, a daughter named Nellie E. was born in 1878. Then in 1883, Newton Smith died, leaving Mary a widow. It is not known when Charles and Mattie first met, or how much time elapsed before they began courting, but they eventually did, and around 1896 they married. Charles studied medicine and became a physician and surgeon. Where he received his medical education is not known for certain, but there is an indication that it might have been at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The couple had two children, a daughter Ester, born around 1899, and a son, Charles, Jr., known as Charlie, born around 1902. Both Ester and Charlie were born in Michigan, which means the family lived there for some time. In 1905, Mattie, Ester, and Charlie were recorded in the Kansas State Census as living with Mattie's mother, Mary Smith, in Eudora, Kansas. Charles' name is missing from the record, and the reason for this is unknown. There are several possibilities. One is that the three may have just been there on a visit and that for some reason Charles was not able to accompany them. A second is that the family was moving from Michigan to Kansas, and that Mattie and the children had come on ahead while Charles remained behind temporarily to finish some business there. Subsequent events raise the third possibility, that Mattie had left Charles and taken the children to live with her mother. Whatever the reason, Charles eventually came to Eudora and the family was reunited. Exactly when that was in not known, but reports hint that it was in 1905 or 1906. Charles opened a medical practice in Eudora and also taught at the University of Kansas. The 1908 yearbook has him listed as "a demonstrator of Massage and Hydro-Therapy". Although he was described as a caring and competent doctor, rumors began to spread that there was trouble in the family. On December 10, 1910, Charles changed the beneficiaries of his life insurance policies from Mattie to Ester and Charlie, cutting his wife out completely. It appears that around this time, Mary, who had been living with Charles and Mattie, moved out and left Eudora. She was reported to have told Charles that she wanted the family to be together, and had pleaded with him to give up his drinking. Mary went to live with her daughter Nevada, who apparently had left her husband, Horace Mendenhall Rogers. The couple had lived in Jefferson Township in Johnson County, Kansas, but after leaving Rogers, Nevada, had opened a boarding house at 1407 Kentucky Street in Lawrence. The gossip around Eudora was that Charles "was in the habit of drinking heavily and abusing his wife and family." On April 7, 1911, while Charles was in Kansas City for the day, Mattie had a friend drive her to Lawrence, where she boarded a westbound Santa Fe train. Gossip around Eudora was that she had run off with a man. This was apparently fueled by Charles reportedly having said that she went to Colorado with a former patient of his, but there is no evidence that she did so. Wherever she went, Mattie did not stay away long, but returned home in time to be seen dining with Charles at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence on April 17th. Then, on September 11, 1911, things began to go very wrong. One report has Charles coming home drunk and threating to kill Mattie, telling her to take the children and leave. Another has it that she just left, telling her husband that she would never return. Whichever account is correct, Mattie left Eudora around midday on the 11th, leaving the children with their father, and walked the nine miles to her sister Nevada's place in Lawrence. Charles discovered where Mattie had gone, and sent the children to her by train on the morning of the 13th. That evening she got an unnamed farmer to take them back home. She sent along a note to Charles, explaining that he was better able to care of them than she was. The next morning, September 14, 1911, Charles left Eudora and drove himself and the children to Lawrence. Some reports have him having been drinking heavily since Mattie left, but a man who said that he had been with him the evening of the 13th and the morning of the 14th reported that Charles had not touched a drop. The three arrived at the house on Kentucky Street. At first Mattie would not let Charles in, but he said that all he wanted to do was talk to her. She let him and the children in, and Charles, Mattie, Mary, Ester, and Charlie sat around a table in the dining room, discussing the family's problems. According to Mattie, Mary said to Charles that "she was anxious to have us live together and get along," and she told him again to give up drinking. Charles asked Mattie if she would come back to Eudora with him, but she refused, saying "I would not live in Eudora again, as I [have] had enough of that place." Charles supposedly swore at her, stood up, and in front of the couple's two children, drew out a 32-calibre revolver, reached across the table, and fired two shots at Mattie. One bullet went through the fleshy part of her left forearm. The other nicked her right arm and continued on behind her, hitting her mother in the thigh. After being hit, Mary fell to the floor. Charles then turned the revolver around, pointed it at his chest, and fired. The bullet went through his heart and he fell dead. Someone called Dr. G.W. Jones, and when he arrived he found that both Mattie and her mother had been taken to bed. He examined and treated Mattie and Mary's wounds. The coroner, Dr. Carl Phillips, had also been called, and when he arrived, he examined Charles' body. He declared it a suicide and said there would be no need for an inquest. Dr. Jones determined that neither of Mattie's wounds were life threating, but the bullet in Mary's thigh had impacted the bone, and so was very serious, especially for a 71 year-old woman. The initial report in newspapers was that the bone was shattered and that Mary was not expected to recover. Charles' body was removed to Shafer and Funk's funeral parlor in Lawrence. It was reported that Mattie had said that Charles was a good man when he was not drinking, and that she would have been willing to go anywhere with him except back to Eudora, where he would resume his old life with his "carousing crowd". Mattie, Mary, and the children spent the night in Nevada's home. Although the first reports of Mary's condition were dire, Dr. H. T. Jones(2) determined her injuries were not as severe as first thought, and that the bullet in her thigh had only chipped the bone instead of shattering it. It was a serious wound, but he expected her to fully recover. To make her more comfortable, the day after the shooting he had her taken to Simmons Hospital. That evening, Mattie took the two children back to their home in Eudora, where she had earlier sworn she would never go to again. She had not been able to use her left arm since the shooting, and physicians had determined that it would take time to see if the paralysis was permanent. On the morning of Sunday the 17th, Charles' body was taken from Lawrence to Eudora, where the local Masons took charge of it. The funeral was held that afternoon in the English Methodist Church there. It is not clear what happened to the body after the funeral. A cousin of Charles, Dr. O. S. Johnson, was in Lawrence on September 20th, and was quoted as saying "We were not greatly surprised when we learned of the shooting ... We have known that Charles was losing his grip for some time. The family realized that he was drinking heavily and that he was not so strong as formerly. He also had a quick temper." Mattie immediately put in a claim to the American Central Life Insurance Company on behalf of Ester and Charlie on the three policies totaling $6,525 that Charles had with them. The company denied the claim, stating that there was a clause in the policies that if the insured took his own life, the policies were invalidated. Mattie filed suit in Douglas County District Court on September 28, 1911, to force the insurance company to honor the policies. Mary was recovered enough from her wound to be released from the hospital that same day. The lawsuit eventually made its way to federal court in Leavenworth, Kansas, where a jury decided on October 17, 1913, in favor of the insurance company. Mary completely recovered from her wound. It is not known if Mattie regained the use of her left arm. In 1915, Mattie married George Neis, a member of a long standing Eudora family. Mary came to live with them, and stayed the rest of her life in Eudora, dying there in 1937. Mattie died in 1938, and joined her mother in the Eudora Cemetery. George Neis died in 1948, and was buried alongside Mattie.

">(1) The date of Newton and Mary's marriage is four years after Marshall was born. There are two explanations for this discrepancy. The first is that Mar-shall as born out of wedlock, and that for some rea-son, perhaps because of Newton serving in the military during the Civil War, Mary and he did not get married until 1866. The second is that Mary was not Marshall's mother. Newton could have had a previous marriage, and that his first wife, Marshall's mother, died between 1862 and 1866. Census records are of limited assistance in determining which is correct. Members of the household are always categorized by their relationship to the head of the house-hold, in this case, Newton, and under his entry in the 1880 U.S. Census for Jefferson County, Kansas, Marshall is noted as "son," which he would have been regardless of whether or not Mary was his mother. That same entry does record Marshall's mother's place of birth as New York, which it would have been if Mary was his biological mother, but it really is no help in answering the question, because a possible first wife of Newton's could have also been born in New York.

(2) There were two Dr. Jones in Lawrence at that time, Dr. G. W. Jones and Dr. H. T. Jones.

(From: Lawrence Journal-World (September 19, 2011), 100 years ago: Injured wife of Eudora doctor goes home in silence; town abuzz with gossip, by Sarah St. John; Payne, W.H., 1880 United States Census, First Ward, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, 6/2/1880; Newton Smith, Michigan, County, Marriages, 1820-1940, Marriages, 1863-1890, v. D, no. 3207, Family Search website; Payne, Charles, 1910 United States Census, Eudora, Douglas County, Kansas, 5/11/1910; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 90 (April 10, 1911), p. 5; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 96 (April 17, 1911), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 120(1) (September 14, 1911), p. 1, 4; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 120(2) (September 15, 1911), p. 1; The Topeka Daily Capital, v. 35, no. 208 (September 15, 1911), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 121 (September 16, 1911), p. 1; The Jeffersonian-Gazette, v. 30, no. 51 (September 20, 1911) pp. 3, 7, 8; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 50, no. 272 (November 28, 1911) p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 55, no. 232 (September 29, 1911), p. 1; and, Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 57, no. 249 (October 17, 1913), p. 1. Published 9/16.)  Back to top of page

October 7, 1898 - John J. Kunkel is arrested and charged with murdering his wife - John(1) J. Kunkel(2) was born in Germany around 1848, and later emigrated from there to the United States. He came to Lawrence, Kansas in 1876. On October 26, 1877, Kunkel married Ellen E. Root, daughter of Ebenezer and Sarah Root, in Lawrence. Ellen had been born in Buck's County, Pennsylvania, on November 10, 1848, but the Roots had lived in Lawrence since at least 1870. Kunkel was a tailor by trade, and eventually became what was later described as a "prominent citizen" of the town. Late in 1879, Ellen gave birth to a daughter, Ada E., around 1884 she gave birth to a son, Julius S., and around 1887, she gave birth to another daughter, B. E. In total, she gave birth to six children, four of whom were living at the end of 1894. In October of that year, Ellen became ill. Her condition worsened, and on December 10, 1894, she died of what was reported as "nervous prostration". Ellen was buried the next day in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. After Ellen's death, Kunkel took in a housekeeper, but aside from that he lived alone with his children. There were whispers that he had murdered Ellen for insurance money, but nothing official was done by the authorities. Eventually, he met Lydia R. Comingor(3), a woman who had a young daughter named Birdie. It is not clear if Lydia was a widow or divorced. She was a seamstress, and rented a space above Kunkel's shop. Kunkel and Lydia courted, and on July 8, 1897, the two were married in Lawrence. Lydia and Birdie moved in with Kunkel and his children. According to later reports, there was trouble in the marriage from the beginning. In late June or early July 1898, Birdie, who was 14-years-old, became ill. Her doctor diagnosed gastritis, and it was reported that he was not too concerned about her eventual recovery. Despite the doctor's optimism, Birdie's condition worsened, and she was reported to be suffering considerably. Then on July 30, 1898, Birdie died. Lydia "was prostrated with grief, and at the child's death ran to a neighbor's house, crying 'Birdie has been murdered. I shall never go back again to that house.'" She was reported to have spoken during Birdie's illness that she had suspicions that Kunkel was slowly poisoning her daughter, and that she again voiced them to the neighbors. Acute gastritis is a symptom of slow arsenic poisoning, so her suspicions about her daughter's death were not out of line. Lydia's neighbors convinced her that she was wrong, and she went back home. Around the first week of September, Lydia became ill, with symptoms similar to those of Birdie. Around midnight on September 26, 1898, Lydia died at home. Kunkel quickly had her embalmed. Old rumors about Kunkel poisoning his first wife and his father-in-law, and having burned down his house for insurance money were quickly brought up again. The authorities immediately began a coroner's inquest into the deaths of Lydia and her daughter Birdie. Although her body had been embalmed, Lydia's stomach, liver, spleen, and kidneys were removed for analysis before her burial on the 28th in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. On October 7, the coroner's jury brought in a finding that Lydia Kunkel had been murdered by poison, and issued a warrant for Kunkel's arrest on a charge of committing that murder. The analysis of Lydia's stomach and vomit had shown large amounts of arsenic in both, which would not have been the result of the embalming of her body. Kunkel was arrested and jailed that afternoon. The jury then turned its attention to Birdie Comingor's death, and witnessed the exhumation of her body that same afternoon. They then adjourned to await the analysis of Birdie's body. Kunkel's preliminary hearing began on October 14th, and lasted until the 17th, when he was bound over for trial in district court to be held without bond. On November 12, 1898, the coroner's jury found that Birdie Comingor "was poisoned maliciously, willfully and unlawfully by administering arsenic poisoning by some party or parties unknown to this jury." Since they failed to name a perpetrator by name, Kunkel was not charged in his step-daughter's death. Kunkel's trial for the murder of his wife Lydia began on February 21, 1899. The prosecution attempted to bring in the suspicion that Kunkel had murdered Birdie Comingor, but Judge Samuel Agnew Riggs "ruled out every mention" of her case. Judge Riggs continued to rule out much of the testimony the prosecution attempted to get in, including that from a witness who tried to testify that Lydia Kunkel had told her that Kunkel had poisoned Birdie and was poisoning her. The defense rested on March 1st and the case went to the jury. The next day, Judge Riggs instructed the jury to bring in a verdict of not guilty, which the jury did. The Lawrence Daily World pointed out that no other verdict was possible, considering that the judge had ruled out most of the prosecution's evidence, leaving them with no real case. The paper went on to observe that "it does appear to the community that the power of the court should not be used for technical purposes as against the prosecution of the community in such cases as this." Prior to delivering his charge to the jury, Judge Riggs had written a review of the case, which was printed in its entirety in the March 4, 1899, issue of the Lawrence Daily Journal. By the summer of 1901, Kunkel had supposedly not been feeling well for some time. Early in the morning of August 30, 1901, he began feeling very unwell. He sent for his daughter and a physician. Kunkel died around 7:00 a.m., with the cause of death being attributed to heart disease. His funeral was on August 31st, followed by burial in Oak Hill Cemetery next to his first wife Ellen. Cemetery records show that this second wife Lydia is also buried in the Kunkel plot, but there is no marker of any kind there with her name on it. Where is Lydia? It is just one more unsolved question in the saga of John J. Kunkel.

(1) Since he was born in Germany, his given name at birth was probably Johann or Johannes, and he anglicized it to John after coming to America.

(2) In some reports, his last name is misspelled as Kunkle.

(3) Some sources spell the name Comingore.

(From: Kunkel, John, 1880 U. S. Census, 1st Ward, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/14/1880; John J. Kunkel [1877], Family Search website; Root, Ebenezer, 1870 U. S. Census, 1st Ward, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/13/1870; Lawrence Daily Gazette, v. 6, no. 77 (December 10, 1894), p. 3; John J. Kunkel [1897], Family Search website; The Lawrence Gazette, v. 17, no. 841 (October 13, 1898), p. 2; Lawrence Weekly World, September 29, 1898, p. 5; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 180 (September 27, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 182 (September 29, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 181 (September 28, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 189 (October 7, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 30, no. 249 (October 8, 1898), p. 2, 4; Lawrence Daily World v. 7, no. 195 (October 14, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 197 (October 17, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 220 (November 12, 1898), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World v. 7, no. 307 (February 21, 1899), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World v. 7, no. 310 (February 24, 1898) p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. [313] (February 28, 1899) p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 8, no. 1 (March 1, 1899), p. 3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 8, no. 2 (March 2, 1899), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 31, no. 54 (March 4, 1899), p. 2; and, Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 33, no. 209 (August 30, 1901), p. 1. Published 10/16.)  Back to top of page

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